Press release

Gartner Says Marketers Must Focus on Helping Customers in Order to Remain Competitive Today

Sponsored by Businesswire

Big data and analytics allow marketers to know their target audience
better than ever. However, in a world of information overload, marketers
must focus campaigns on actually helping customers accomplish their
objectives, according to Gartner, Inc.

Research findings on B2C and B2B marketing, brand and corporate
communications revealed during the Gartner
Marketing Symposium/Xpo
keynote here today, centered on one key
theme: the brands best able to help customers either do something or
feel something will win customer loyalty.

“Connecting with customers in a valuable, relevant manner is as old as
marketing itself. But we’ve seen a shift recently in how, exactly,
customers want to connect with brands,” said Brent Adamson,
distinguished vice president at Gartner. “Customers find themselves lost
in today’s world — sifting through overwhelming amounts of information,
adjusting to rapidly changing technology, struggling with relentless
economic fragility, among other polarizing issues. It’s no wonder
customers are overwhelmed and worried about the decisions they are
making. Because of this, they are now looking to brands for that
reassurance and help in making the right decision.”

Gartner research shows that 44% of customers worry they’ve missed a
better option every time they make a purchase. To mitigate this feeling
of uncertainty, brands must focus on building stronger relationships
between customers and their brand by helping customers — understand
their options, make a purchase, give them confidence and reassure their

“Ultimately, we need to help customers build stronger, healthier, more
productive relationships between themselves and their world,” added Mr.

The theme of helping customers echoes throughout Gartner research from
every industry and across every marketing function over the last year —
from personalization and content marketing, to improving the customer

Personalization Efforts Must Focus on Helping Customers

Gartner research on personalization shows more than half of customers
report they will unsubscribe from a company’s communications and 38%
will stop doing business with a company if they find personalization
efforts to be “creepy.”

On the other hand, that same research reveals that messaging designed to
provide valuable assistance or support, while using as few data
dimensions as possible, delivers the greatest commercial benefit. In
fact, messages focused on helping the customer accomplish something
increases the predicted impact of the commercial benefit index (e.g.,
brand intent, purchase, repurchase and increased cart size) by nearly

“It’s a fine needle to thread between being too inaccurate and too
creepy,” added Mr. Adamson. “At the end of the day, consumers don’t just
want you to show them that you know them, they want you to help them get
something done.”

B2B Content Marketing Must Help Customers Buy

Similarly, B2B buyers today will also reward suppliers who make the
purchase process easier. Gartner research shows that customers who
receive helpful information that eases the purchase process are three
times as likely to buy the bigger, more expensive option, with less

B2B marketers must rethink their content marketing strategies to focus
on “buyer enablement” — the provision of information and/or tools to
customers that support the completion of specific buying jobs throughout
the purchase process. This content must help to guide customers through
critical buying tasks, geared toward overcoming challenges they
encounter throughout the buying process. “Bottom line, we get paid when
we help buyers buy,” said Mr. Adamson.

Customer Experience Efforts Must Help Reassure Customers

The concept of helping customers also emerges in how brands improve the
customer experience (CX). When looking at the CX investments most likely
to positively impact customer loyalty and build long-term relationships
— from improving service rep skills, to faster response times and
website design — Gartner research finds that while customers will punish
brands for underperformance, they are highly unlikely to reward brands
for exceptional performance. Instead, when customers feel a sense of
self-affirmation, they are more likely to reward the brand that
generated that feeling.

“Suppliers and brands win the battle for long-term customer loyalty not
so much by changing the way customers perceive their company, but by
materially impacting the way that customers perceive themselves,”
explained Mr. Adamson. “It’s an indirect result of brands helping
customers to feel differently about themselves, first, and only through
that difference feel differently about the brand, second.”

Brand Initiatives Must Help Customers Feel Good

Lastly, when looking at the potential value of a brand connection,
Gartner research reveals that the common approach of “shared values” has
little impact on brand connection for customers. Instead, irrespective
of what a brand believes, customers are three times more likely to feel
a strong brand connection when they perceive that brand to deliver a
range of personal benefits — how a brand helps them achieve their goals,
present themselves to others or feel about themselves.

“Strong brand connections are less about whether or not the brand
presents itself in a way that is consistent with customer values, and
far more about whether or not the brand helps customers present
themselves in a way that’s consistent with their own values,” added Mr.

Regardless of the investments in technology, data and analytics,
marketers that don’t make helping customers an integral part of their
overall strategy miss a massive opportunity to drive commercial outcomes
and provide material help.

“Today is a rare magical moment for all of us in marketing, where doing
the right thing for consumers, for our business and, frankly, for the
world are all in 100% alignment,” said Mr. Adamson.

Gartner for Marketers clients can access relevant research and insights
in the reports “Rethinking
Personalization for Maximum Impact,”
Digital Customer Engagement,”
a High-Impact Customer Experience Strategy”
and “Winning
Preference Through the Corporate Brand.”

About the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo provides marketing leaders actionable
advice about the trends, tools and emerging technologies they need to
deliver business results. Gartner
for Marketers
analysts address the biggest opportunities, challenges
and priorities marketers face today, including data and analytics,
customer experience, content marketing, customer insight, marketing
technology (martech) and multichannel marketing. Additional information
is available at
Follow news and updates for the event on Twitter at #GartnerMKTG.

About Gartner for Marketers

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice and proven
tools CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right
opportunities with clarity and confidence, and stay ahead of the trends
that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers
helps you focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to
deliver results. More information on Gartner for Marketers is available
online at

About Gartner

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